What Managers Should Know About Cross-Cultural Communication

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Imagine that your company sends you to Japan for a technical meeting. The Japanese company’s representative comes to your hotel room and inquires if you have had your lunch. You tell him that you are anxious to try some sushi. You feel great when he invites you to the hotel restaurant, where a gracious
waiter encourages you to try various kinds of sushi. A while later, you begin to feel very bad, when you realize that your host has just paid $300 to $400 for your lunch. This happened to a manager of a high tech Colorado company about 20 years ago. Today, due to the lessons he has learnt over the years through an ongoing contact with the Japanese vendors, he is unlikely to experience another culture shock.

Use Face to Face Communication to Build Bridges

Forget about email and telephone when trying to establish operations or find vendors abroad, advises Scott Meyer, who has worked for many years in Europe. Instead, go on an extended business trip to the country of interest. Try to spend time in the major metropolitan areas, as well as in less popular peripheral locales. Immerse yourself into that country’s culture, develop insights into the dynamics of country’s business culture. Experience first-hand how people in that county react to products or services, similar to yours. Establish personal relationships and business contacts.

Use Interpreters Wisely

Do not underestimate the role of an interpreter in a cross-cultural setting. A similar cultural background between the non-English-speaking client or vendor and the interpreter will make communication easier. There are two types of interpreters. Simultaneous interpreters facilitate conferences with a large number of attendees. Simultaneous interpretation requires special equipment that allows the presenter to speak without pausing while the interpreter listens through the headphone and interprets the speech. Consecutive interpreters are better suited for small meetings and tradeshows, where the speaker would pause after few sentences so that the interpreter can relay the message. When using a consecutive interpreter it is important to pace your presentation and let the interpreter and the listeners keep up with it. Use humor sparingly. Avoid jokes that rely on the English language puns and wordplay, or on an understanding of the U.S. culture.

When hosting a contact from abroad for the first time, do not make assumptions as to whether that person will or will not need an interpreter. Foreign visitors will view your offer the services of an interpreter as a sign of respect for their language and culture.

Plan Your Cross-Cultural Meetings Carefully

The Japanese have a different concept of time, explains Bob Ariniello, the media products’ vice president of Exabyte Corporation. Time is not as important a criterion for the Japanese, as it is for us, especially when it comes to schedules and timelines. When planning a business trip to Japan, it makes sense to allow at least twice as much time, as you normally would. The Japanese culture is evasive. Realize that when your vendors tell you they will study the issue, that may be their way of saying no. To get to a yes, let them take time to build consensus. Spending extended time in business meetings will give both sides the opportunity to resolve the underlying issues.

Avoid Assumptions About Cultural Similarities

It is common for people to view the world through their own cultural worldview, to attach culturally-based meanings to what we see and hear. In cross-cultural situations, however, it is easy to create a misunderstanding by viewing people from other cultures, as if they are similar to us. Incorrect assumptions about the meaning of similarities may cause us to stereotype or misjudge people and situations. Some Asian cultures, for example, use a smile as a mask when dealing with unpleasant situations. In our culture a smile is associated with pleasant emotions and projects friendliness.

Develop and Practice Cross-Cultural Awareness

In any country the operating parameters are set by rules, established practices and cultural attitudes. Cross-cultural awareness is a skill, based on a set of
interpersonal characteristics, that allows effective managers to be open to other cultures, different from their own. This skill can be learned and needs to be
practiced. Even in English-speaking countries, such as Australia, “nothing should be taken for granted”, cautions Jerri Paulison, organizational development manager for Cobe Cardiovascular, Inc. She stresses the importance of good listening skills, patience and talking to people, who are intimately familiar with the country you intend to do business with, as well as obtaining additional information through reading.

In summary, any cross-cultural business situation is a journey. There are going to be differences. Expect them. Learn to appreciate them. Learn from them.
Learn to adapt.

 

Article Author: All Language Alliance, Inc. –  Nina Ivanichvili

– Nina Ivanichvili is CEO of All Language Alliance Inc.,
www.languagealliance.com, a foreign language translation firm specializing in legal, technical, financial, and medical translation and interpretation services in over 80 languages. She can be reached at 303-470-9555

Article Source: http://www.articlealley.com/article_117184_15.html

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Differences In Japanese And British Business Culture

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When doing business in a foreign country it is always vital to understand differences in culture. This helps to avoid misunderstandings and allows development of positive and long-lasting business relationships. Knowing the differences in business etiquette between British and Japanese culture could be what lands you a lucrative contract or a lucrative new job. While Japanese businesspeople understand that you will not understand all of their culture and business etiquette they will notice and appreciate your genuine efforts.

Relationships

The Japanese generally do business based on personal relationships. Being introduced by a person who has a good relationship with the company is very helpful. You may be given a small trial to prove yourself. Even if this request is non-profitable, completing it quickly and well helps develop a long-term relationship.

Gift Giving

Gifts are very important in Japanese culture. Always give a small gift at the end of a meeting to the most senior member. Consult with a Japanese person on an appropriate gift. Many flowers such as camellias are associated with death and potted plants encourage sickness. If you receive a gift, do not open it in the presence of the giver.

Business Meetings

Meetings should be arranged by telephone well in advance. Punctuality is imperative. Seating is arranged with the most junior member nearest the door and the most senior furthest away. Do not be surprised if meetings contain several people, even if you thought it would be a one-on-one meeting. You will be expected to have a document containing information about your company, testimonials from customers and other companies and newspaper or magazine articles. It is best to come to a meeting with your best offer, as this is what will be expected.

Communication

Consensus and group decision-making is the norm in Japanese culture. Questions should be phrased in such a way that even negative answers can be given with a yes. For example “Do you think this is a bad idea?” rather than “Do you agree?”. Japanese businesspeople may be silent while considering issues and may close their eyes while listening carefully. Confrontational negotiation styles such as raised voices or anger will be frowned upon. Contracts are generally broad with room for re-negotiation and flexibility rather than rigid and point-by-point. However, written contracts are always expected.

Business Dress

Japanese business culture is quite conservative and avant-garde fashions will not be appreciated. Conservative business dress is always appropriate in Japan, especially for women. Suits should be dark-coloured without flashy accessories.

Business Cards

Business cards are very important in Japanese culture and you should always have a ready supply. The quality of your business cards and their condition is highly important also. When you receive a business card examine it carefully and treat it with respect. After meetings, place received business cards in a special case. Investing in business cards written in Japanese is a gesture of goodwill that will be appreciated. Give and receive business cards in both your hands and with a small bow.

Article by Linguarama:

Take a language course with Linguarama to improve your language skills, or prepare for a foreign business trip with some Cultural Competence Training.

Article Source: http://www.articlealley.com/article_2080678_22.html

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Italian Business Culture on Italy

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If you are going to open a company abroad, you should be aware that learning culture, etiquette and protocol is a must for the success of your business.

If Italy is the country where you want to settle down, the best thing to do is to understand the Italian market, how it works, how to relate with customers and so on.

Italians generally prefer doing business with someone they know or have been introduced to. Italy is a law-trust society and Italians are suspicious of people we don’t know, especially in the business arena. Word of mouth and a friend’s recommendation are very important. You can use your existing contacts and networks as an introduction before attempting to set up a meeting.

Remember not to try to schedule meeting on August. This is a kind of sacred month for Italian people, since it is dedicated to holiday and relax and everything concerned to work has to be postponed to September.
Once you managed to schedule a business meeting remember that Italians so mind the image and the appearance. Trust widely depends on your image and attitude. So, dress to impress, choose tasteful and stylish clothing. For example Italian men use to wear dark suit, sophisticate ties and expensive watches. Italian women chose elegant outfits and sober accessorizes.

Keep in mind that the right image and formality are key elements in the Italian business culture.
In Italian business culture, relationships matters. You will get use on shaking hands upon arriving and departing. On the other hand you should avoid moving away or keeping your distance because it can be perceived as unfriendly. Since Italians are often guided by their emotions, establishing a business relationship based on trust is essential for the success of your Italian business.

Another aspect you should consider if you are going to set up a business in Italy is the time keeping. Italians are lively and sociable people and we think that finishing a conversation with a colleague is much more important than breaking it off to be punctual for a business meeting. But if for Italians to be late it’s the normality, they expect foreign business people to be on time. By arriving promptly you show your consideration and courtesy, that we have seen is very important for Italian people.

Before opening a company in Italy is therefore important to understand the cultural differences and the customs of this country in addition to its law and the legal requirements necessary to set up a business in Italy. You can fine lots of useful information a tips on Italy Law Blog, an independent blog run by a pro bono association called T & Partners, which goal is to provide free information about Italy regarding economical, strategical and legal topics.

Find all the information you need about Italian business culture at http://italylawblog.eu

Article Author: Daniela F.

Article Source: http://www.articlealley.com/article_1790020_15.html

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